Breehn Burns, former showrunner and director (now head writer, a recent shift for Season 3) of Bravest Warriors was asked on a new Reddit AMA about the animation process behind the show. I’m reblogging it here because I’m asked this a lot, and Breehn knows best. Here is his very insightful and thorough answer:
I don’t have much experience as a board artist, so I tried to gear the process toward my strengths. After writing a script (usually about seven to ten pages) with my co-writer Jason Johnson, I have a character designer rough preliminary designs. I meet with a board artist and act out as much of the episode as possible, then talk to them about their layout needs, and start sketching backgrounds with them to get the lay of the land. That gets sent to the background designer who begins his roughs, and the board artist starts his five weeks.
The board process for season two got much easier since we hired James Burks as Creative Director. He’s fantastic with boards, and keeps the artists on the right track.
Each board artist is different. Some of them offer new lines and ideas, others work strictly from the script. Since we’re a script driven show, we stick to its structure but try to take advantage of visual opportunities in the board. There’s always room to grow, and thinking in a tactile, experiential way is important in making the world real. When live actors get on a set, they bring it to life and unpredictable things start happening. As much as possible we embrace that concept, and try to think like real people in a real place, and interact with it.
I have a makeshift recording booth in my closet at home, so as soon as a rough board is complete I record all the temp voices myself. Our editor uses these to cut together a rough animatic. That stage is the most important for me, and where I usually find the film. I’m tweaking and rewriting jokes, changing timing, adding temp scores and just letting the whole thing come to life. Notes are given to the artist who incorporates changes.
With a final storyboard, we cast any new parts that may crop up and get our actors into the recording studio. I record the actors one at a time, pick the best takes, and later their voices are cut into the final animatic. There’s track reading, sheet timing, character designs are finalized, props and effects drawn, backgrounds cleaned up and the whole thing gets sent to Dong Woo studios in Korea for animation.
While they’re animating (on paper!), a couple weeks later we send characters and backgrounds fully colored, as that’s the last stage of Dong Woo’s process. They send back fully animated shots, we call any retakes we need, and I work with the composer and sound designer who spend about two more weeks working on the five minute short.
Our final day is on the mix stage, where sound is married to picture and the short is complete. The process takes around seven months.
So, now you know!
I’ve talked a little about my process as a character designer on the show—big picture in this JetPens interview, and specifically here about Catbug and Impossibear.